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Chemical Weapons

Goodbye to chemical weapon stockpiles

Last chemical munition declared under international treaty is destroyed

by Britt E. Erickson
July 12, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 23


An M55 rocket containing GB nerve agent is prepared for destruction at a pilot plant in Kentucky
Credit: US Army
The last chemical weapon from stockpiles declared under the Chemical Weapons Convention was destroyed July 7 in Kentucky.

The last chemical weapon from all stockpiles declared by parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention has been destroyed, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed July 7. That last munition, which was part of the US stockpile, was a rocket containing the nerve agent sarin.

“The end of destruction of all declared chemical weapons stockpiles is an important milestone for the Organisation,” OPCW Director-General Ambassador Fernando Arias says in a statement. “It is a critical step towards achieving its mission to permanently eliminate all chemical weapons.”

Preventing the reemergence of chemical weapons is now a priority for the OPCW. “Rapid developments in science and technology, new dangerous toxic chemicals, more sophisticated equipment and production methods, better means of delivery, and the interaction between chemistry, biology, and artificial intelligence present additional factors that will put the relevance of the Chemical Weapons Convention to the test,” Arias says.

All but four countries have signed and ratified the disarmament treaty, which went into effect in 1997. Since then, the OPCW says, it has verified that 72,304.34 metric tons of stockpiled chemical weapons have been abolished.

“I continue to encourage the remaining nations to join the Chemical Weapons Convention so that the global ban on chemical weapons can reach its fullest potential,” President Joe Biden says in a statement. “Russia and Syria should return to compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and admit their undeclared programs, which have been used to commit brazen atrocities and attacks,” he says.



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